Wednesday 6 August 2014

Rock 16

Drown in You ...

It has been three weeks since we returned home from Sugar Valley.

The first two weeks I did nothing but cry.  I hardly left my bed for over a week.  I can't believe that the heartbreak has hit me this hard again after all this time.  Mace has actually been quite amazing which has really shocked me.  Especially as we haven't had one single argument over how I have been behaving, even when I can see it has been hurting him.  Sometimes he's even cried with me!

I am lay on the bed after taking a shower and getting dressed.  I'm just mindlessly watching the television, like I have been doing constantly for the past three weeks, while I wait for Mace to finish taking his shower. 

I am feeling a lot better within myself today, I haven't cried at all today and have found it easier to distract myself away from thinking about what is upsetting me.  

I think it is about time me and Mace get out of the house and start doing something.  I really need to start pulling myself together and finding other ways and activities, instead of sex and television, to distract me and take my mind away from the heartache.  I'm wearing myself out!!

A phone starts ringing and I don't know if it is mine or Maces.

Our dirty discarded clothes are all over the bedroom floor because we had taken them off in a hurry and Mace has not got around to sorting them out yet and I just can't be bothered.  Both of our phones are buried in amongst all the clothes so I have to root around in them to find the offending phone which carries on ringing.

It's Mace's phone that is ringing.  As I sit back down on the bed I just answer his phone quickly, because of the length of time it's already been ringing.  Not even checking to see who it is.  I wouldn't normally answer Mace's phone because I can't stand most of his friends and I'd rather avoid talking to them as a rule.

"Hey Mace."  I recognize Atlas's voice

"Mace is in the shower Atlas."  I tell him

"How you doing Gran?  Is everything okay?   I haven't spoken to Mace for well over a month now, he's been very quiet lately and I haven't seen either of you boys around for a while."  he says which really confuses me.

"You spoke to him a few weeks back didn't you?  When we were in Sugar Valley."  this makes me frown.

"No, seriously haven't spoken to your boy for over a month!!  So what's in Sugar Valley?  I didn't realize you boys had even been away that must be why I haven't seen you around!"  That's strange when Mace told me he'd told Atlas we were in Sugar Valley!! 

"We were only actually away for three days about three weeks ago.  I've got family there, my nephew is in hospital."  I'm confused  "Strange he phoned someone while we were there, I could have sworn he said it was you!!"  I guess we have been just hauled up at home for the last three weeks, even Mace has hardly seen anyone. 

"No mate, not me!!"  he laughs  "The last time I saw or spoke to Mace was when the three of us went to the game together!"  That has been more like nearly two months ago!!

"Nevermind, it's probably me I must have miss heard him!!"  I laugh down the phone even though I am not really amused.  "Atlas, I'm in the middle of something so can I get Mace to phone you back when he's finished in the shower!!"  he says its not a problem and we both hang up the call. 

After I end the call, I stare down at Mace's phone a little confused.  Why did he lie to me?  He definitely said it was Atlas that he'd received the text from and who he said he'd nipped out to phone.  I get curious and start flicking through his phone,  I open up his text messages.

I count back the days to work out the date then scan his list of inbox messages, luckily he hasn't cleaned them out for over a month.  There are a few messages on his phone for the day I worked it out to be with the same number which doesn't have a name against it.  So I open the first one which I notice is at a stupid time in the morning, just after midnight.  "Urgent and alone!"  I found that very strange so I close it and open the next one, the text that he received around about the time when we would have been at the hospital.  "Sneak out - it's urgent we are in trouble - phone me"  That is just as strange!!!   I open the next one  "Green 100% gone, hows the brown doing?!"  These are weird texts!!

I close that text up and scan back through the months texts, that number crops up a lot of times before and after our visit to Sugar Valley.  I wander who and why they are sending him wierd texts like that even when we were in Sugar Valley.  I get a horrible feeling about it.  

Green, brown?!  Is he messing with drugs?!  No he wouldn't, he's always been very anti drugs from the day he landed on my doorstep and if he was taking drugs I'd know!!  Other than drugs all I can think ... is he actually cheating on me!!??  

Is he sleeping with somebody else behind my back?!  Now wouldn't that just be a laugh right now!!  Even though I've always given him the free reign to go out and shag other people, in my mind that stopped when we decided to work on us.  I was always confident anyway that he wouldn't go out and 'cheat' on me.  That is the last thing I need him to be doing at the moment and especially lying about it.

I quickly scribble the number down on a piece of paper, fold it in half and shove it in my side of the wardrobe underneath all my underwear.  I would love to check out the rest of the texts but dare not in case Mace walks in and catches me messing about in his phone.  It is not normally something that I would do anyway.  I know he goes through mine all the time when he thinks I'm not looking but this is the first time I've ever been through his.  

I lie on the bed trying to make sense of it.  Obviously he used Atlas as a cover for whoever he was really sneaking out to phone.  I hate lies, he knows that, I've spent too many years listening to my brothers and living with Mace's fairytale lies!!

"I need to nip out and do some shopping Gran."  Mace says as he walks back into the bedroom after taking his shower.  "You seem a lot better today, do you fancy a trip to the supermarket?"  he smiles at me.  "It's been ages since we went shopping together."

"Naaah I'd rather stay here and wallow!"  he laughs at me  "I'm going to try and get some more sleep, you've knackered me out!!"  he starts laughing  "Oh Atlas phoned while you was in the shower, he wants you to phone him."  

"Oh, what did he want? Did he say anything?"  he looks a little nervous suddenly as he glances nervously at his phone now on my bedside table.  Yeah you did lie to me didn't you and you are up to something!!

"He said nothing, just can you phone him back."  I mumble

I hand Mace his phone and when he reaches to take it off me I grab him and pull him onto the bed and start kissing him.  I don't need him to be suspicious of me being suspicious of him before I find out what he's up to.

"You could always sack the shopping, I can think of better things we could be doing together."  I grin at him  "We could order a pizza instead."

"No and I thought you was knackered!!  We need shower gel and other stuff that I can't order from the pizza place!!  Besides haven't you had enough already, I swear you are only using me for sex to switch your head off!!"  he laughs at me and I laugh with him.  He's right, I am, it's the only time I can stop my head from wandering off to Forrest and his red bitch.

"Rumbled!!"  he starts laughing as he lies on me and closes his eyes.  We lie there for ages not speaking.  The texts and lie that he told me are really playing on my mind  "Mace, you know when we decided to change thing ... you do realize don't you that it means you can't go off shagging anyone else now!"

"Where the hell did that come from?"  he opens his eyes and frowns at me  "I didn't before so I'm not going to now ... I'm not interested in anyone else!!  I love you!"

"Okay, I'm just checking!"  I mumble as we carry on just lying there.  I'm quite comfortable and close my eyes and continue to lie there, I'm actually starting to drift off until he speaks and snaps me back.

"I really need to go shopping!  If I stay here any longer I'll be falling asleep and you'll be screaming at me later when you can't have a shower or brush your teeth, we've run out of toothpaste."  he smiles up at me

"Go on then get lost bitch, go do the shopping like a good little housewife - and don't forget - white bread, normal cheese and ketchup!!"  I smile at him  "I'll take a nap so I can do you when you get back!"  he rolls his eyes and laughs at me as he kisses me, climbs off the bed and walks out of the room.

I continue to lie on the bed trying to think about who might have been sending him those texts.  I am kicking myself now for not checking the texts that he received before and after we went to Sugar Valley, I would have had time to check a couple more at least. 

When I hear the front door shut I wander out into the living room and watch him from a distance through the window getting into his car and pulling off the drive.  Once his car has turned out of the street and disappeared out of view I go back into the bedroom and pull the piece of paper out of the wardrobe.

I stand there staring at the number, wandering what I should do with it.  I guess there is only one thing that I can do - phone it.  I take my phone out of my pocket and start typing in the number.  When I've put all of the number into my phone a name pops up on my screen which I stand and stare at in shock for a moment.  My phone has recognized the number because it's already in my phone.  

It is Gravels number.

That doesn't make any sense at all!!  Why would Gravel be sending Mace text like that?  More to the point - there were text on Maces phone from BEFORE we went to Sugar Valley - Mace didn't know Gravel then!!  Did he?!  This has to be a mistake.  I double check the number and its right.  I think my phone must be playing up and I hit dial on my phone and stand holding my breath waiting for the call to be answered.

"Well hello brother, now this is a surprise!!"  Gravel laughs down the phone at me  "How's the heartbreak?"  I haven't spoken to him since we left Sugar Valley for exactly this reason the digs!!  I've been calling Bay everyday instead to find out what has been going on with Slate.  I have spoken to Mango a few times but I get a strange feeling he is really off with me for some reason, like I have upset him somehow.

"Get lost Gravel!!  How's Slate?"  my head is swimming and I don't even know why I phoned him, but I guess I needed to hear his voice just to make sure this is actually Gravels number.

"Fine as far as I know."  Well that's a bit of a slack attitude to say it's his son!!  "You should have phoned Bay, like normal, he's the one privy to all the inside info seeing as he seems to be yours and Mango's best buddy these days!!"  he laughs and so do I because he's being bitchy obviously he's found out I've been phoning Bay everyday and I've not bothered to phone him once.  "So how's your bitch holding up with all the crying you are doing?"  Isn't it just funny he should ask about Mace!!

"He's great!!  I've not had too much time for crying, you know he's keeping me busy, he knows just how to take my mind off things!"  he starts laughing

"Yeah I bet he does!!"  he laughs

"I'm going to go and phone Bay seeing as you don't seem to care how your son is!!"  I snap at him  "I'll phone someone who does care - call yourself a Dad - you're a joke!!"

He starts swearing at me but I don't listen to much of it before I cut the call off!!  Jerk!!  My brother is unbelievable!!  I'd give my right arm for a kid of my own and he abuses his and doesn't appreciate what he's got!!  But that is Gravel all over - if it isn't him, it's not important!!

I stand there stunned for a moment wandering if I'm not going mad!!  Why would Gravel be sending Mace those text?  What could they even mean?  The reference to Green and Brown?!  He wasn't on about me and Forrest was he?

Why would Gravel be sending Mace text BEFORE we went to Sugar Valley BEFORE they even met as far as I'm concerned?  They had never seen each other before so I thought.  I wasn't seeing things was I?  There were definitely text on his phone from that number BEFORE our trip to Sugar Valley weren't there!?  I didn't even know Gravels number then so how could Mace??  I need his phone to check again.

I suddenly get an idea.  I run into the kitchen and pull out the box from one of the bottom draws where I keep all the old bills.  I dig through them and pull out all the phone bills and start sorting Maces into a pile separating them away from my own.  I check the bill on the top of the pile, running my finger down the list of numbers he's called.  

I feel the blood and colour draining away from me as I sit comparing the number on the paper to the same one I can see on the bill.  The date on the top of the bill - SIX MONTHS AGO!!  I Start rooting through the bills trying to find the oldest one.  I generally keep bills for four years before I shred them.  I grab the oldest one I can find and start searching for Gravel's number.

I find it.  Gravels phone number is there in black and white on a bill from nearly FOUR YEARS ago!!  Jumping out at me all down the page.  HELL!!!  All this time ... Mace and Gravel have known each other.  But how?!  Why?!  Another secret!!  Now I'm scared ... this can't be happening!!  How the hell have I never noticed this before?  Why have I been too trusting, I've never checked his bills even though I should have been, especially lately because of how much he is running up his bills too!!

I sit there numb with shock not knowing what to think or what to do next!!

After a while I flip open my phone and call Bayleaf.

"Hey Bay how is Slate?"  I ask him when he answers his phone

"He's great, they have taken him off another one of the machine today.  I was going to call you later!  Mango says another week and they should be ready for waking him up!"  he laughs  "You will be back then won't you!!"

"Yes, I'm actually thinking about coming back at the end of this week, I want to be back before they wake him up!"  I say to him which he is very happy about.  "Bay, did you tell me your brother is in the force?"  he says yes he is a detective and is based at the Apple Hill station.  He looks like a pure brown berry so he's free to roam the coded world.  "Great I don't suppose I can have his number, between you and me, I want him to check something out for me."

"He's actually here with me now if you want to talk to him!"  he laughs.  "Hang on I'll just pass you over."

Pretty lucky for me.  Cinnamon comes to the phone and I ask him if he can do something for me and keep it quiet especially from my brother because it involves him, which he agrees to.  I explain to him the whole situation from Mace turning up on my doorstep answering the room advert to date, and that I've never been suspicious of him until now and explain the contact he's been having with Gravel all this time behind my back.  I give him Mace's name and date of birth, and any detail I can think of that might help, even down to his scars and ask him if he'll run a police check on him.  He says it's not a problem we exchange numbers and he says he's due into the station later he'll get him checked out and phone me back and asked me if I can text him a photo of him just in case, he thinks the situation sounds a little dodgy and if something suspect is going on then he might be using a false name. 

I cut the call off and send him a few photo's that I have on my phone of him as well as taking a picture of a good photograph of him that is hanging on the wall in the bedroom.  I sent the picture text and closed my phone wandering off into the kitchen to make myself a drink.  I seriously can't believe this!!  If Gravel and Mace have known each other all this time, why has he never said?!  More to the point what is their game?!

Mace walks in weighed down with the shopping.  

Now I have to TRY and act normally when inwardly I'm shitting myself ... if Mace is something to do with my brother, then its got to be dodgy!!

"You okay baby?"  he smiles at me.  There is that word baby that rolls so easily off his tongue but sticks in my throat.  "I thought you was taking a nap."  he asks as he dumps the shopping bags on the floor.

"Just fetching a drink and stretching my legs.  I'm bored of being cooped up in the bedroom, I think it's about time I snap out of it"  he smiles as he starts to unpack the shopping.  I help him to unpack the shopping.  "I see you do listen to me sometimes!"  he laughs as I wave a tin of tuna in his face before I put it into the cupboard.  "I hope this means you have not brought home new tenants for the fridge!!"  he starts laughing at me as he throws a bottle of ketchup at me to catch and I put it in the cupboard with the tuna.

I stand watching him while he puts the last of the shopping away.  Suddenly I feel like I've got a completely new and different person stood in front of me who I don't even know.  In fact, what do I actually know about him - hardly anything!!  I'm wandering why if he's known Gravel all these years why he's never said anything?  Has he been planted her by my brother to spy on me and report back to Gravel?  

Hell!!  Does he really even love me at all?!  Is this just a game?  A game that Gravel would play!!  That kind of knocks me off my feet a little, knowing or thinking that Mace loves me is really what has kept me going, it's given me an option if you like, something to work on and cling onto.  I need him to keep me sane as well as on the straight and narrow and away from my addictions!!   He frowns at me for standing watching him, I've switched off thinking and didn't realize he is now watching me.

"What's wrong?"  he asks me as he puts his arm round me.

"Nothing!"  I laugh at him  "I'm just waiting for you to finish, remember I said I'm going to do you when you get back!"  he rolls his eyes at me  "Bedroom now!"  I start pulling him along through the living room and into the bedroom   

"What the hell is wrong with you - have you been eating Viagra?"  he laughs

I push him back onto the bed and crawl over him.  I stare into his eyes and watch them react as he stares back, I'm not even sure why I'm questioning his feelings because I know, that look that he gets in his eyes, Forrest used to look at me that way and you can't fake that ... can you?!

"No, but it's your lucky day - it's your turn to do me!"

"What?"  he frowns at me  "Are you actually offering to play bitch for once!?"

"Yes! I don't want sex - make love to me - show me you love me!"  

Without any hesitation he starts to kiss me passionately and peel off my clothes slowly, instead of the usually tugging them off.  Well that's a good start at least.  

I'm not even sure that I should be doing this. I don't really want to be doing this - but I need to find out, I need to make sure that when he tells me he loves me, he means it and this isn't just a game ... a game invented by Gravel!!

We lie on the carpet exhausted trying to calm ourselves down.  I'm not sure what just happened but I completely lost my head and went to a place that I've never been to before with Mace.  I'm not sure if it was because it has been so long for me or because he did actually make love to me.  If he doesn't love me then that was one hell of a ride and act!!  That was something else!!

I roll over onto my side and just stare at him because he suddenly starts laughing his head off as he lies there outstretched on the carpet next to me.

"Why the hell do we always end up on the floor?"  he asks while he's laughing.

"Creaking beds irritate the hell out of me, that's why!!"

"You are a strange one Granite!!"  he laughs at me  "So where did that just come from?  Anyone would think you are feeling insecure!!  Just when I think I know you inside out, you go and do something off the wall!"

"You must know me a lot better than I know you!  because I am, I'm scared of losing what we have got."  he just laughs at me as he starts to kiss my face.  "I don't really know much about you or your past do I?"  he pulls away from me and I just smile at him as he hovers over me.  "You've never really talked about your past much, hardly anything in fact."  he laughs

"No, because there is not much to tell and what there is is not very interesting!!"  he tries to kiss me almost like he's playing my game, cut off the conversation so it doesn't carry on.  I hold him off.

"Come on ... I want to know even if it isn't interesting.  How do you expect me to fall in love with you if I don't know who you are?"  I frown at him  "I know about the children's home but that's it - there must be plenty more ... your parents for instance!"

"Gran please it hurts too much!!  I don't want to be reminded of my past - just like you don't!!"  he snaps at me  "and I'm the insecure one here remember not you,  I love you so much sometimes it hurts because you love someone else!!  I'm not going anywhere!"  he starts to look upset  "We need to concentrate on the future, not the past, forget the past that's what's stopping you from loving me!!"  

He tries to kiss me again and this time I don't stop him, it's obvious he is not going to tell me anything.  I think whatever game he is playing with Gravel it doesn't have a hold on his feelings - when he says he loves me - I believe him!!

It has been a few days since I spoke to Cinnamon and I'm starting to worry about the length of time it is taking him to get back to me.  I'm lay on the bed watching television while Mace fixes us something to eat, when my phone starts ringing and Bay's number is flashing up on my screen.

"Hiya Bay."

"It's not Bay, it's Cinnamon are you free to talk?"  he says quietly

"Yes Mace isn't in the room if that's what you mean."  I say wandering why he might be using Bay's phone and not his own, but I guess Mace wouldn't think anything of Bay phoning me, I've not even met Cinnamon in the flesh yet.

"Listen mate if he's in the house, go out for a walk.  Phone me back when you are well away from him, I don't want there to be any chance of him hearing any of this conversation!"

I really don't like the sound of this.  I tell Mace I'm going for a walk round the block because I'm getting a headache and need to clear my head.  He doesn't look happy about it but he lets me go alone without an argument.

When I get out of our street, I slip down the alley way at the end of our road and I call Bay's phone back. 

"Your boyfriend!  I think you might just have opened up a right can of worms!!  Like I thought your Mace is using a false name and if he is who I think he is you wanna get out of there fast!!"  he says straight away.

"Why?"  I'm a little surprised by him saying that.

"Well the real Mace Wood has been deceased for the past six years, he's a cold case, a suspicious murder still unsolved.  Your Mace is using a faded mans identity who could very well have been disposed of for just that purpose.  The real Mace Wood being very similar in age build and colouring."

"Hell!!  So you don't have a clue who my Mace is!"

"I lay bets on that I do!!  I think your Mace is actually Mace Brownie.  I found him pretty much straight away because of the photographs you sent me, one of my colleagues recognized him straight away!!   It has been reading through all the case files that has taken me the time to get back to you.   Mace Brownie has a different date of birth to the one you gave me, but has the same colouring and matches all the other details you gave me, including scars, but he was actually born here in Apple Hill.  I've checked the photo's you sent me with police files and using his weight, height, colour, distinguishing marks, age etc the computer threw up only one possible, Mace Brownie again who is a perfect match for your guy.  Mace Fudge Brownie who is at present listed as a missing person."  he seems to pause for a moment  "The hair is a little different but only in length and he's older now obviously but it looks like the same person to me.  I need his finger prints to be 100% sure!  How long did you say he's been living with you?"

"Five years."  something is troubling me  "Apple Hill, no it can't be my Mace, he was born in Cherry Hill."  I say stupidly not even thinking he is probably lying to me!

"Granite - I doubt a single thing that you think you know about him is true!!"  he laughs briefly  "Five years - it seems a little more than a coincidence that Mace Brownie was reported missing just over five years ago by his family who live in Apple Hill, nobody has seen or heard from him in that time ... we actually thought he was lay low or had been faded because of what he was mixed up in and his body just hadn't turned up yet."  he goes quiet for a moment  "We were getting very close to nabbing him just before he disappeared.   The timing of his disappearance for him couldn't have been any more perfect, we suspect he was getting inside information and if he is working with your brother then that would make sense.  There have been suspicions flying around about your brother for years and Mace has always appeared to be one step a head of the law!   I shouldn't be telling you this but there was a strong suspicion that Mace was running for Gravel years ago, there was an informant who was conveniently, for your brother and Mace, distinguished and paperwork went missing so it could never be proved ... Mace has got quite a colourful and busy past."  he laughs a little  "I think you must already know him and am actually pretty surprised you haven't clicked on yet!  Your paths have got to have crossed back when you were an active criminal, he was working your patch along side you, probably with you, he would have been right under your nose."

"That's impossible, I would recognize him and he couldn't have been he's only 30 now!!"  I laugh at him  "He's a lot younger than I am."

"I know, he was a very small child, born into a notorious family you know well, he was probably bottle fed on crime.   Mace's criminal record started being marked when he was just eight years old and he's well known of today as being a very slippery hit man amongst other things."

"WHAT!? A hit man!? Don't be stupid - not my Mace!!"  I laugh at him

"Granite there are too many coincidences for it not to be, especially because of who's son Mace is and him landing in your lap, that is what really worries me.  I thought I might have had a reaction out of you by now I've dropped enough hints!!  He's a BROWNIE Granite ...  you of all people know exactly who they are!!"

"Shit ... Fudge Brownie!!"  I can feel my blood and colour draining away from me again.  I suddenly feel very very sick!!  "He's Fudge's boy!!"

"Exactly - Fudge Brownie is Maces Father!"

"OH BERRY!!  How can I have been so stupid!?  FUDGE!!  I have completely forgotten all about Fudge's son over the years!!  Mace was trained by Fudge for the criminal life the minute he stopped wearing diapers!!  He used to get pissed with us when he was about six, in fact he was the one who used to steal most of our booze for us!!  The kid even did jobs with us, he could get through holes and into places we couldn't!!I feel like I'm going to pass out as things start coming back to me.  That Mace is my Mace and I've known him all along!!  "HELL!!  How could I have not realized!!"

"I guess the last time you would have seen him he would have been only ten years old - so it's understandable you would never have recognized him!!"  Cinnamon is really laughing at me now and I can quite understand why!!  I feel such a fool!!  "If your Mace is this Mace Brownie then I suspect this might be personal and it's not just a coincidence that he has turned up on your doorstep of all places.  I pulled up the files of all his convicted family members and of course your name was popping up all over the place.  You used to run with Fudge Brownie and his two brother.   We had been after that slime ball for YEARS and it was your confession that finally got him caught and banged to rights and locked up where he belonged!!  I think you know that is why the court was leaniant with you and you weren't given half the time they all received, plus you pleaded guilty and they didn't.  I pulled your file up and I saw there was conflict between you and them while you was in prison which got you moved to Berry Shores out of harms way."

"Yeah, death threats to me, my brother, sister in law and my husband."  I laugh  "I told them to finish me off and be done with it, I expected to leave prison in a box.  They wouldn't have got their kicks from that - making people suffer was their game - threatening my family, separating me from Forrest - twenty years later I am still suffering for it even after they are six feet under - that is the way they worked!!  They liked to torture and torment then fade, they liked nothing better than to watch their victims suffer before they put them out of their misery!!  They gave me an option - stay and watch my family all fade one by one before me or I ship out and never come back then my family wouldn't have been harmed - either way I was losing them forever, so I chose to ship out."  I laugh for a moment  "Even though I shipped out I expected them to come after me one day when they were released, after making me suffer seperating me from my family, I expected them to come to finish me off.  Of course I kept tabs on them inside, I was very relieved the day I found out all three of them had been faded inside.  I forgot about Mace and thought the danger was over and that was an end to it ... but now ..."

"Exactly and if your Mace Wood is Mace Brownie, then I suspect you could well be in danger again, because he could very well be playing the same game.  You said yourself they liked to torment and kill.  Mace might just be finishing what they started, or for the boy this could well be just a revenge thing.  Fudge Brownie and his brothers were all done over inside, you put them there and that's where they ended their days like you said.  Mace would have only been fifteen years old when his Father faded, he could well blame you, he could well just have revenge on his mind."

"But he's been here for five years, it wouldn't make sense - if he was here to do me in, surely he would have done it by now!!"

"I know the time does seem a little extreme - but he could well be using you as a means to lay low and is just biding his time.   He must know if your brother has kept him in the loop that he is a very convicted man the minute we clock him resurface, Mace's life is over Granite, he's spending the rest of his life inside for the hits we have on him."  he goes quiet for a moment and I can't speak because I'm numb with shock.  "I've checked out your brother and Mace's phone records and there has been contact between them since the day Mace acquired that number over five years ago around about the time he disappeared.  I suspect he might well be working for your brother if past rumours are to be believed and I can't say what the point of all this is, but I doubt it's good!!"  he goes quiet for a moment  "I hate to say this Granite but I think you must realise, when we take Mace down, your brother will more than likely be going down with him, we hate nothing more than bent coppers inside the force - just the fact that Gravel has known where Mace has been and had contact with him all this time is enough!!"

"Hell!!"  I stand there numb with shock  "Gravel deserves what's coming to him in my book - he'll have brought it all upon himself but please don't ask me to go out of my way to help you take my brother down!!  On the other hand you don't have to worry about me either - he's already stabbed me in the back once and if he is responsible for planting Mace, a hit man, on me ... then you can take him down, I'm not going to interfere with the law by tipping him off or helping him.  I know my brother is a nasty piece of work and it would only be a matter of time before one day he would hang himself with his antics, but if he is playing with hit men then I have to think about Slate's future safety, Gravels stupidity is putting him in danger!!"  

I could tell them a whole heap of stuff that would get him banged up right now but I would never do that, even after everything he's done to me, and probably still doing, he is still my brother!!   

"I do need to ask you one question ... you've never done any running for your brother have you?  Anything that might come back to bite you in the ass!?"

"HELL NO!!  Mate, Gravel took me down for everything - I have no more skeletons in my cupboard you won't need to worry about me I've been squeaky clean since I left prison!!"  he laughs  "I guess you've already checked my criminal record!"

"Yeah I can see that you have stopped being a naughty boy!  Good on you Granite!!"  he starts laughing  "You know the heat was very much on Gravel back in the day when you was an active criminal  - he used you to clean away the suspicion - a bent copper would never have taken down his own brother like he took you down!!  Him doing that wiped his slate clean and closed the book ... although you can never keep a bent copper down for long and suspicions have started to run rife again of late, and it looks like your Mace might just be the one to hang him!"

"I seriously can't get my head around any of this!!  I can't believe it could be my Mace, he is far from the little boy I remember and I've only ever seen my Mace really lose it once, he's quiet, he's just not the sort, I used to run with criminals I'd know ... he loves me!"

"I wouldn't be so sure about that ... Mace Brownie is a very well known player, and he's exceptionally good at it apparently!!  He's not even gay in reality, he has a wife and kid, a little girl, here in Apple Hill who have been wandering where he is for the past five years!!  That is how much of a player he is!!  You need to watch your back Granite, the guy can fool the best of them as well as being a known hit man and while we have banged up and extracted confessions from many of his associates we've never been able to get our hands on him - he's a slippery character, like Father like Son!!  We've got close on twenty hits ready to pin on that boys back when we get our hands on him including the real Mace Wood who just might be another to add to the list!!"

"HELLLLL!!"  I can't get my head around what he's saying.  Mace married with a kid!  All those hits?!  "Cinnamon, what do you suggest I do?"

"Get out of there and fast!!"  he laughs  "Bring him back to Sugar Valley, you have the perfect excuse with the kidney transplant!!  I need to make sure we definitely have the right man.  Then we'll take it from there.  Let me just run everything past my chief and I'll phone you back and Granite start sleeping with one eye open from now on mate!!"  I don't say anything while the shock of it all sets in.  "You need to get back here as quickly as possible, and carry on as normal, act normally, whatever you do, do not let him know or see that you are remotely suspicious, the minute you do that - you are a goner!!  Granite it's not like you've never been in that life, you know how it works and I'm sure you know how to play it!!"

Great!!  Just Great!! 

After I'd finished speaking to Cinnamon he passed the phone over to Bayleaf so that he could tell me how Slate is doing.  I spoke to him for quite a while before I cut off the call and quickly made my way home not too sure how long I'd been away.

When I get back from 'the walk' Mace is in the living room working out in front of the television.  I just sit down and watch him, now not knowing who he is anymore is very hard to take.  This morning he was just Mace - now he is something else!!  I am wandering what the hell he has done?   What is he doing?  especially to us!!  

I am really not sure that I can believe that my Mace is even capable of being a hit man and a player.  I also can't believe he is that same little boy that I knew 20 years ago.  If this is true then he has played me a blinder!!  

Twenty plus years ago I would have taken anything that anyone said to me with a pinch of salt, always watching my back, always waiting for something to come to me.  I thought that life was gone, but it seems it hasn't for me, I've been dragged straight back into it.  I've let my guard down, I've become too trusting and now look at what's happened.

Gravel!!  What is his game?!  If Mace is working or running for Gravel.  What does he have planned for me - what is the point of Mace being here?  I can guarantee it is not going to be good!!  Gravel must know Mace is a hit man - so why knowingly send him to me when there is a possibility that Mace could be harboring a grudge against me? - I'm a dead man walking!!  That scares the hell out of me!!  Just what have I ever done to my brother to deserve this?!

"So who was you talking to on the phone?"  he says suddenly without turning round  "I kept trying your phone and it was permanently engaged!"  he snaps.  This is a joke right!!  "You was gone for ages, I was worried you might go off drinking!!"

He snaps off the television and turns round to face me.

I start laughing at the look on his face.

"No booze, you can smell my breath!"  I breath all over him then kiss him.  "You twat!! I was talking to Bay as I walked round the block.  I phoned to check on Slate, we got chatting because they had just taken him off the last machine so I hung on for a while to see how it went."  

"I don't believe you!!"  he holds out his hand and asked for my phone.  Oh please!  Not again!  I'm used to him getting all silly like this, but after what he's been doing for the past five years - it's ridiculous!  

"I'm not having a secret affair with anyone and especially not Bay before you even say anything ... I think even you can see he's madly in love with Slate you idiot!!"  I laugh at him "Bay phoned me and asked me to ring him back because he's low on credit, so I did.  He's all excited because Slate is free of all the machines, except for the kidney machine, so they'll be waking him up over the next few days."  I laugh at the look on his face as I hand him my phone  "Here you phone him and ask him - you tit!!  You are like a possessive paranoid bitch and while it's quite flattering that you are so obsessed over me - it's pretty annoying when I'm not a cheat or a player!!"  I snap at him now thinking if he is indeed Mace Brownie then the guy is just full of shit and this is just part of his game!!

He actually takes my phone off me and checks the call log.  It is a very good job that Cinnamon made the call on Bays phone!!   Mace is a joke!!  But he doesn't call Bay he just gives me the phone back.  Then it clicks, I know what his problem is - Forrest.

As I stand there studying his face, I can see it, I can see Fudge Brownie in him ... how have I never noticed it before?  Was it because I wasn't looking for it?  How have I never seen how much like his Dad he actually is?!  Why have I never question his skin, hair and eyes being exactly the same shades of brown as Fudge had?! 

"I'm sorry!!"  he says finally  "I can't help it, I'm paranoid of HIM!!"  he actually starts to look upset.  "I'm scared!!  We've just been to Sugar Valley, you could have his number for all I know!!"

"Here Mace take my phone - check out ever number, go through my text and call log - you won't find anything especially not HIM!!"  I laugh at him because this now all feels stupid this is just a game that he's playing - isn't it!?   There really isn't any point to it and all the headaches he's given me over the past three years especially, it's all been a game and for nothing!!  So why is he stood there looking genuinely upset ... this is confusing the hell out of me!!   "Do you seriously think I would have been breaking my heart for the past three weeks or playing bitch and trying to make us work if I was having sneaky phone call with him?!  No!!  Man you are worse than a girl!!"

"I know I'm sorry!!"  he mumbles as he puts his arms round me.

Mace was making us cheese toasties when I went out for the 'walk' they are now sat on the kitchen counter and have gone cold, he went to throw them away and make some more but I stopped him because I don't mind eating them cold.  

"You should eat your crusts - you are just like a child the way you leave them!!"  he starts laughing at me

Mace saying the world child reminded me of what Cinnamon had told me about him having a wife and child in Apple Hill.  How could he?!  How could he just walk on his child's life for five years to do whatever he's doing here with me?  

The worse thing about being gay is never having any children, I would do almost anything to have had or to have a child of my own!!  He has one and he has just left it behind like it's nothing!!  It's like Gravel and his slack attitude towards Slate - it makes me sick, the pair of them make me sick.  Neither of them appreciate what they have got.

"You know what we should do when we come back home after the kidney transplant, we should look into adopting a couple of kids."  I smile at him 

He nearly chokes on his sandwich.

"WHAT?!"  He carries on choking on his food

"Don't you want kids?"  he just stares at me  "I'd love kids!! Especially a little girl.  The one thing I hate about being gay, not being able to have my own kids ... but that doesn't stop us from adopting a couple.  We can afford it, you are at home 24/7 wouldn't you love to have a couple of little girls running around the place calling you Daddy"

He is now not even looking at me, he's staring off into space a glazed look in his eye.  Got ya!!  I mentioned the girls on purpose.

"What do you think?"  he snaps out of his thoughts then and looks at me.

"Where has this come from?  You have never mentioned kids before."

"I've always wanted kids but pushed it to the back of my mind because it's not possible is it for me being gay, or practical because of the way our relationship has been.  But now that we are supposed to be making a proper go of this - we may as well go the hole hog and be a proper family - a couple of kids, and we can even get married when my divorce is finalized."   

Mace just sits there staring at me wide eyed.  I have just virtually told him I'm still married and he hasn't reacted to it, he hasn't even batted an eyelid.  Does he already know through Gravel that I'm still married?  I bet he does!  What he doesn't realize is that I now know he is married, to a woman!!  He just frowns at me.  

"I guess Slate has set me off thinking about it, Gravel has made me really angry he has got a kid and look how he's treating him, he doesn't deserve kids, like people who just walk out and dump their kids like you ..."  he glares at me for a split second giving the game away, yes I know what he was thinking then that I know about him walking out on his kid.  Half sentences always work a treat!  "like you was dumped in the kids home - your parents didn't deserve you just like Gravel doesn't deserve Slate!!"  his face softens.  Yes Mace you've just fell for my fishing with your face.  You forget I used to live in your world and I can be just as sly when I really want to be!!  "We could give one or two of those kids a good home ... couldn't we?!"

"I guess!"  he smiles at me and carries on chewing on his food without saying another word.  He didn't even react to me throwing in that we could get married.

I know that I shouldn't have done that, but I got the reaction I wanted to see.  Mace Wood my ass ... he is Mace Brownie, I just know he is.

The more I look at Mace, the more I can see it.  Why have I been stupid enough never to have noticed before.  His resemblance to Fudge jumps right out at me, now I know I can see it.  The colour of his skin, eyes and his hair.  His nose and that mouth, why have I never noticed his mouth before, I've kissed it enough times!!

My mind flies back to our last day in Sugar Valley the day that I saw Forrest and his red guy.  The things that I told Mace that day that he hardly reacted too when I was expecting him to hit the roof.  He hardly reacted to them because Gravel has probably already told him all the facts.  I bet he knew all along I was married and that Forrest is part of Gravels adopted family, I BET Mace even knows Forrest's name!!

I've openly grieved for Forrest right in front of him and he hasn't reacted to that either, he has just let me get on with it.   Mace being here ... this is just a game that him and Gravel have created for whatever reason.   

Mace is playing me, he's made me believe that he loves me and I've fallen for it hook line and sinker!!  Does he even really care about me at all?   You can't fake loving someone can you?  I know I can't so how is he doing it?  Is he faking it?  I don't think he is faking it - I think it's real, is that what has kept him here and me alive for this long?  I'm really confused!!

I don't need his finger prints to prove it.

I think I already know Mace is going to be Fudge Brownies son!  I also think I know exactly how this is going to end, it's not going to be good, and it's going to be painful!!

Suddenly I am very scared for my future!!

I'm scared of being alone and without the person I thought he was!!

Song ~ Drown in You ~ Daughtry

Yes I know!!  If you have been paying attention Ive used this song on 3 different chapters now (rolls eyes) As well as it being one of my favourite Chris Daughtry songs - Its one of those songs that you can apply to a lot of different situations and it makes perfect sense - and this is another one of them!



  1. Well I'm glad that Granite finally knows something is going on!

  2. Yes! Granite. Be smart. Open your eyes. I love it. LOL. I'm sad that he's still doubting his thoughts though about if Mace loves him or not, I thought it would have been a little easier for Granite to know because he doesn't love Mace so whether Mace loves him for real, now that he knows he's being played, shouldn't matter? I don't know, I guess being with someone for a long time kind of makes you want them to love you, even if you don't. LOL. Oh well, maybe later Granite will put some more pieces together and wonder if Mace and Gravel were lying to him about Forrest as well. I hope he does. T_T I want to see Granite and Forrest reunited. Haha, I'm kind of wishing for their happiness since they were so cruelly deprived of it. I am so glad that Cinnamon was a resource for Granite.